Can somebody tell me why Valve has been so Nintendo-phobic when it comes to game releases? Even when the Wii U was where Nintendo consoles harnessed the technological prowess of the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3, titles like Team Fortress 2 and the Portal series have yet to make it on anything with the company’s logo on it. The closest thing there is to a Valve-related release on a Nintendo console is the Portal-themed world in LEGO Dimensions.
Oh well…At least there’s now a game on the Switch that resembles Portal to some degree. Readers, meet ChromaGun, a former Steam release that’s not nearly as afraid of the Nintendo name.
At first glance, ChromaGun may be imitating Portal a little too closely. You have a weapon to use for puzzles, and your character’s purpose is to clear an elaborate marathon of trials and tests involving these puzzles. It even has a snarky overseer adding comic relief to the otherwise lonely atmosphere. Nevertheless, the gameplay is the main difference between both games. Before I get into that, though, I must go over the usual minor categories.
The first-person view with a sci-fi weapon in hand gives off Portal vibes, as does the enclosed lab environment. It’s not as dark, given that much of the game visibly takes place in daytime. In fact, there are living human beings at the beginning of the game, so you at least know there are actual people behind these trials and not killer robots.
The audio department in ChromaGun is rather on the soft side. Sound effects are hardly noticeable compared to the same-y atmospheric music. The HD Rumble, on the other hand, is so loud and so obnoxious that I almost felt like my Switch was about to explode or something. Definitely turn the vibration off if you’re prone to deaths in this game.
Funnily, the elevator music at the beginning of the game uses the same public domain (I assume, anyway) jingle that YouTube user “I Hate Everything” uses in his intros. That got a chuckle out of me.
Let’s get one thing clear: You aren’t shooting out portals with your gun in ChromaGun. Instead, you are painting walls and sometimes orbs. Color is the primary catalyst for the action that goes on in this title. The gun you use shoots red, blue, or yellow paint, and the colors can mix into green, purple, or orange if you make it so. Orbs of the same color as a piece of wall can get attracted to it, which leads to solving the game’s puzzles. And much to the game’s credit, the puzzles are often clever and enjoyable to solve. “A-ha!” moments are frequent and enticing, and the game gradually challenges the player with increasingly brain-taxing trials.
That’s not to say every puzzle is a success. The ones that aren’t…really, really aren’t. I’m talking about the ones that follow a different mindset altogether. For example, there was this one level where you’re being chased by fires, and it sucked because it required trial-and-error play and quick reflexes. Another level took the reflex thing up to eleven and you had to lead four blue orbs onto buttons in rapid succession before they revert back to their spots. This probably worked better with a mouse and keyboard, considering this was a Steam release. However, you can’t be so precise that easily on a home console, leading to tons of frustration and potential rage-quits.
If you’re willing to let those aspects slide, however, ChromaGun is a solid puzzler when all things are taken into account. It could definitely use some more refinement, but what it does have to offer is sure to entertain.